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Thomas v. Clay

May 25, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Plaintiff Mitchell Thomas ("Thomas") filed a third amended complaint against Defendants Theresa Clay ("Clay") and Diane Morrison ("Morrison") (collectively "Defendants"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In it, he alleged that defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by failing to provide timely and adequate medical treatment. Defendants' motion for summary judgment is now before this Court. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.


I. Thomas's Medical Treatment

Thomas was a pretrial detainee at the Cook County Department of Corrections ("CCDOC"). (Defendants' Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts ("Def. SOF") ¶ 2.) On June 30, 2007, Thomas was allegedly attacked by another detainee while housed in the Residential Treatment Unit ("RTU"). (Def. SOF ¶ 7.) Thomas testified that, as a result of the attack, he suffered an injury to his right shoulder and started to experience headaches. (Def. SOF ¶ 8.) That same day, Thomas was seen by an unidentified nurse in the dispensary. Thomas told the nurse that he did not require treatment because he thought the pain was going to go away. (Def. SOF ¶ 13.) However, Thomas continued to experience pain in his shoulder on July 1, 2007. (Def. SOF ¶ 14.) He requested, and was given, Tylenol from the nurses in the RTU. (Def. SOF ¶ 14.)

On July 2, 2007, Thomas saw a doctor and complained of pain to his right shoulder and lower back, in addition to headaches. The doctor ordered x-rays for the Plaintiff's shoulder and back and prescribed 600mg of Motrin for ten days. (Def. SOF ¶ 15.) On July 3, 2007, Thomas's right shoulder and back were x-rayed. The x-rays revealed a slight tapering of the lateral aspect of the clavicle and a 6mm separation of the acromioclavicular ("AC") joint. (Def. SOF ¶ 16.) On July 24, a doctor examined Thomas and prescribed 500mg of Naprosyn for seven days to alleviate his pain. (Def. SOF ¶ 17.)

Over the next seventeen months, while Thomas was incarcerated at CCDOC, he continued to receive treatment for his right shoulder and headaches. On August 8, 2007, a doctor examined Thomas and ordered additional x-rays, referred Thomas to an orthopedist, and scheduled a follow-up appointment. (Def. SOF ¶ 18.) X-rays were taken on August 13, 2007. (Def. SOF ¶ 19.) On August 21, 2007, Thomas saw a physician's assistant ("PA"). The PA made a referral to an orthopedist, prescribed Tylenol for three days, and scheduled a follow-up. (Def. SOF ¶ 20.) Thomas was seen by an orthopedist on August 23, 2007. (Def. SOF ¶ 21.) Thomas was x-rayed, prescribed 500mg of Tylenol for three weeks, given a sling, and scheduled for another appointment on December 12, 2007. (Id.; Def. SOF ¶ 41.)

Thomas was again examined by a doctor on October 2, 2007, who prescribed 500mg of Tylenol for three weeks for right shoulder pain. (Def. SOF ¶ 23, 42.) Thomas saw the doctor once more twelve weeks later. (Def. SOF ¶ 23.) On November 14, 2007, an orthopedist saw Thomas, recommended physical therapy, and prescribed 500mg of Naprosyn for two weeks to alleviate shoulder pain. (Def. SOF ¶ 24, 43). Still complaining of pain and intermittent headaches, Thomas saw a doctor on December 19, 2007. (Def. SOF ¶ 25.) The doctor prescribed 500mg of Naprosyn for eight weeks, for his shoulder, and 750mg of Robaxin for eight weeks, for his headaches. (Id.; Def. SOF ¶ 44.) Beginning on March 12, 2008, Thomas was prescribed 750mg of Robaxin and 650mg of Tylenol for eight weeks. (Def. SOF ¶ 45.) On May 7, 2008, Thomas was prescribed 750mg of Robaxin and 325mg of Tylenol for eight weeks. (Def. SOF ¶ 46.)

On June 19, 2008, Thomas was prescribed 600mg of Motrin for seven days. (Def. SOF ¶ 47.) On July 9, 2008, Thomas appeared as a walk-in during sick call, complaining of pain in his right shoulder and headaches. (Def. SOF ¶ 29.) The PA recommended that Thomas continue with his physical therapy and home exercises, renewed his prescription for Tylenol and Robaxin, made another referral to an orthopedist and scheduled a follow-up appointment. (Def. SOF ¶ 29.) Two days later, on July 11, 2008, Thomas saw another doctor. (Def. SOF ¶ 30.) Thomas complained that the physical therapy was not working and requested surgery. (Id.) The doctor discontinued the Robaxin, prescribed an increased dose of 600mg of Motrin for eight weeks, entered a consultation with an orthopedist, and scheduled a follow-up appointment. (Id.; Def. SOF ¶ 48.) The orthopedist saw Thomas on August 7, 2008, and recommended that he work on his range of motion, receive an MRI, and continue on Motrin. (Def. SOF ¶ 31.) Thomas was prescribed 800mg of Motrin for three weeks. (Def. SOF ¶ 49.) An x-ray taken of Thomas's shoulder that day revealed no changes from a year earlier. (Def. SOF ¶ 32.)

On September 4, Thomas was prescribed and received as needed 800mg of Motrin for two weeks. (Def. SOF ¶ 50.) Thomas arrived for a follow-up appointment with a doctor on September 5, 2008 and saw an orthopedist on October 2, 2008. (Def. SOF ¶ 33, 34.) The orthopedist made a referral for elective surgery on Thomas's right shoulder. (Id.) Thomas was prescribed 800mg of Motrin for three weeks. (Def. SOF ¶ 51.) Thomas saw an occupational therapist on January 14, January 28, March 24, April 7, and May 20, 2008. (Def. SOF ¶ 35.)

In October and November of 2007, and January, March, June, September, and November of 2008, Thomas filed grievances stating that his pain medication was not working and that only surgery could relieve his right shoulder pain. (Def. SOF ¶ 64.) In denying Thomas's initial grievance, the CCDOC Appeal Board declined to order an immediate surgery because Thomas's case was not considered urgent. (Def. Ex. 7 at 240.) Thomas was eventually scheduled to have surgery on his shoulder on November 28, 2008, but he was transferred to the Illinois Department of Correction ("IDOC") on November 21, 2008. (Def. SOF ¶ 65). IDOC provided Thomas with the same methods of treatment he received while at CCDOC; he received medication, had an MRI, and was directed to participate in physical therapy. (DEF. SOF ¶ 66). On November 10, 2009, Thomas underwent surgery to repair his shoulder at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (Plaintiff's Statement of Facts ("Pl. SOF") ¶ 72.)

II. Nurses Clay and Morrison

Clay and Morrison are Licensed Practical Nurses working in the RTU, also known as Division Eight or the psychiatric unit, while Thomas was detained. (Def. SOF ¶ 3, 4.) Thomas was moved from the RTU to Division Ten in May 2008. (Thomas Dep. 17:20-18:2, 58:5-9.)

Clay and Morrison did not work in Division Ten. (Id. at 62:2-6; Clay Dep. 7:14-21; Morrison Dep. 6:22-24.)

Clay and Morrison's responsibilities include dispensing medication, treating patients, changing dressings, and handing out referrals for sick call. (Id.) When a problem is referred to a doctor, the nurse's role ends after she submits the sick call slip to the secretary, who schedules an appointment. (Clay Dep 20:3-4, 24:24-25:3.) Clay and Morrison are authorized to provide over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to inmates without a doctor's order, upon request. (Def. SOF ¶ 54.) However, if an inmate has received Tylenol for three to five days in a row, the nurses were not supposed to administer Tylenol. (Id.) Ice packs or heat packs are distributed with a doctor's order or as first aid immediately after an injury has occurred. (Def. SOF ¶ 55.) These packs could not be passed out in the psychiatric unit without a doctor's order, to guard against inmates ingesting the contents. (Id.; Morrison Dep. 26:18-27:3.)

Thomas testified that Clay and Morrison never denied him his prescription medication. (Thomas Dep. 65:18-24.) He testified that he received all of his prescribed pain pills on a daily basis or consistently. (Id. at 42:5-11.) His medication administration records show that he received the vast majority of his prescribed medications. (Def. SOF ¶ 38-51.) The record indicates that some doses of Tylenol or Motrin were not administered in August 2007, October 2007, March 2008, May 2008, and August 2008. (Def. Ex. 3 at 512, 516, 520-22, 524-27, 536, 540; Morrison Dep. 23:14-21.) Defendants explain that those pills were prescribed and distributed on an as-needed basis, whenever Thomas requested them. (Def. SOF ¶ 41, 42, 45, 46, 49; Morrison Dep. 22:20-23:4, 24:4-9.) This has not been disputed.

While Thomas takes no issue with his prescription medications, he alleges that Clay and Morrison, on at least ten occasions each, denied his requests for sick call slips, Ben Gay, ice packs or heat packs, or non-prescription Tylenol. (Id. at 43:7-14; 65:20-24; 67:23-68:9.) The nurses denied his requests for ice packs or heat packs around four or five times each. (Id. at 66:1-8.) When denying his requests, Clay and Morrison would allegedly respond "Wait till you see the doctor." (Id. at 41:1-12; 43:7-14.) Clay ultimately took three sick call slips from Thomas on July 16, August 8, and August 17, 2007. (Pl. SOF ¶ 79.) Each time, she gave Thomas a single dose of non-prescription-strength Tylenol. (Id.)

Defendants dispute that they refused any of Thomas's requests, pointing to the fact that Thomas's allegations are unsupported by any evidence other than his own deposition testimony. Still, the Court, in viewing the evidence in Thomas's ...

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